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The Racketeer by John Grisham

The Racketeer (original 2012; edition 2012)

by John Grisham

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Title:The Racketeer
Authors:John Grisham
Info:Doubleday (2012), Kindle Edition, 353 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Racketeer by John Grisham (2012)

2012 (14) 2013 (19) adult (5) Adult Fiction (5) audio (4) audiobook (5) crime (21) crime fiction (6) ebook (18) FBI (10) fiction (111) Florida (5) hardcover (4) John Grisham (5) Kindle (18) Large Print (6) lawyers (13) legal (9) legal fiction (8) legal thriller (23) murder (12) mystery (47) novel (9) prison (18) read (10) read in 2013 (8) suspense (8) thriller (34) to-read (22) Virginia (5)



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Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
When we first meet Malcolm (“Mal”) Bannister, the “hero” of this novel, he is a small-town black lawyer who has been convicted of a RICO violation and is serving the fifth year of his ten year prison sentence. (RICO, or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, provides for extended criminal penalties for acts associated with "racketeering," a concept that is so broadly defined that it can sweep up people who have only a very tangential relationship with any serious wrongdoing.

Mal, disbarred, divorced by his wife, and losing his son, firmly believes he is innocent of any wrongdoing, and Grisham lays out a plausible scenario about how a naïve lawyer might be caught up in a scheme that results in serious prison time. Bannister has exhausted his appeals and knows enough law to realize that he has virtually no chance of an early release through normal channels. However, when he learns that a local federal district judge has been murdered, he concocts a scheme that employs Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that just may procure his freedom. (Rule 35 provides that “Upon the government's motion…the court may reduce a sentence if the defendant, after sentencing, provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person….”)

What follows is a very complicated concatenation of events that gets Bannister released and temporarily enrolled in the Federal Witness Protection Program. In the process, Grisham - through Bannister, has the opportunity to inveigh against the sometimes unfair abuse of power by federal authorities. He also describes the details of some very effective interrogation techniques used to educe confessions and gives us a glimpse of the very unpleasant realities of incarceration.

This is not a mystery novel in the classic sense where the investigator-narrator shares his thoughts with the reader as he (the narrator) gradually uncovers information that allows him to solve the crime. Instead, Grisham’s narrator tells us what he is doing, but seldom tells us why he is doing it. In addition, Grisham sometimes switches from using Bannister as narrator to an omniscient narrator to fill in facts of which Bannister would not be aware. The result is that the reader is left for 150 pages or so (out of 338) thinking that the protagonist is engaged in some very odd behavior. It all gets untangled in the end, although it takes about thirty pages of dialog for Bannister to explain his actions to some of the other characters, including the FBI agents.

Evaluation: The whole series of events is highly implausible, but who cares? The writing is clear and fast-paced, and even though Grisham “unfairly” hides some valuable information from the reader, the ending is pleasantly surprising.

(JAB) ( )
  nbmars | Mar 27, 2014 |
The Racketeer is classic John Grisham. Featuring a main character who plans a long shot scheme while putting his thumb in the eye of the Federal government, it provides twists, turns and surprises galore. If you are a fan of John Grisham, you are going to love this one.

Malcolm Bannister is serving time in a federal camp for a crime he didn’t commit. A one time small town lawyer, he spends his time taking long walks, working in the camp’s library and dreaming of the day he will walk out a free man. One day he discovers the news of a murdered federal judge and his dreams start to come true. Freed under an agreement with the Attorney General, Malcolm, now Max Baldwin, begins a life in witness protection. Always looking over his shoulder, he plots and plans to truly become a free man.

The Racketeer is a puzzle. The main character, Malcolm Bannister, may or may not be a reliable narrator. There also seems to be plenty of shady characters all asserting their innocence, but in this novel there are few who can be characterized as not guilty. I listened to the audiobook version and am glad. There were so many surprises, I would have been tempted to skip to the end to find out just what was going on! The narration is also excellent, probably the best I have encountered so far in listening to audiobooks.

While there are instances of profanity and adult situations and a loose moral code (this is NOT a Christian book), I enjoyed The Racketeer. If you like legal suspense, puzzling mysteries or any John Grisham novel, I recommend The Racketeer. ( )
  vintagebeckie | Mar 12, 2014 |
This story walked a fine moral line. I generally enjoy morally ambiguous stories because they are thought provoking. I'm just thinking this tale of revenge went too far. There were some excellent plot twists, however, and intriguing characters. Not bad at all. ( )
  hemlokgang | Mar 10, 2014 |
Fun read. ( )
  ague | Jan 1, 2014 |
The story of Malcolm, who got swept up in the prosecution of a money laundering has so many twists and turns that I hated putting the book down. Just when you think the story is complete and should be wrapped up, Mr. Grisham gives us another element. Simply written, with just enough details to be realistic but, not so many that you get caught up in the plausability of the story. ( )
  sunnydrk | Dec 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Grisham’s novel has been hanging around the best-seller lists for a few weeks now. It’s easy to see why. Grisham is the master of the school of telling the readers what happens rather than showing them, and there’s a huge market for that kind of thing.

In the new book, an Afro-American lawyer is sentenced to prison for a white collar crime he didn’t commit. He sets out to get even with the FBI, the prosecutors and everybody else who locked him up. In ways that might baffle even the Perry Masons of the world, the jailed lawyer succeeds.
added by VivienneR | editThe Toronto Star, Jack Batten (Jan 11, 2013)

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John Grishamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sappinen, Jorma-VeikkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I am a lawyer, and I am in prison.
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Book description
Read 02-2014. Read in Ft Laud & Providence. Complex scam by framed black lawyer Malcom Bannister to get revenge on the US govt for wrekcing his life
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385535147, Hardcover)

The Racketeer  was one of Amazon's mystery/thriller Best Books of the Month picks for October. A Q&A with the author:

Grisham3Describe The Racketeer in one sentence. 

A federal judge is murdered, and our hero in prison knows who did it, and why.

What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Sweet Tooth; a friend’s manuscript; and a Kindle Fire loaded with daily newspapers, magazines, and about three dozen books.

Top 3-5 favorite books of all time?

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; A Confederacy of DuncesThe Grapes of Wrath; Little Drummer Girl

Important book you never read?

There are so many. Atlas Shrugged, though I’ve been told for the past 30 years that it’s unreadable.

Book that made you want to become a writer?

To Kill a Mockingbird made me question race for the first time in my young, insulated, white life. It also inspired me to try and write something great.

Memorable author moment?

I received a note from Harper Lee, along with an autographed first edition of To Kill A Mockingbird.

What's your most prized/treasured possession?

A first edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, signed by the author.

Pen envy - book you wish you'd written?

Harry Potter – he’s the only dude I can’t outsell.

Author crush - who's your current author crush?

I’m 57 years old.  Crushes are for sophomores.

What's favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?

Don’t get me started. I can waste enormous amounts of time, and with no guilt whatsoever. Currently, I’m doing so on the golf course, playing a game that I took up only four years ago and is driving me nuts.

What do you collect?

First editions, primarily Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck.

Best piece of fan mail you ever got?

The letter began: “As the newly elected President of the Arkansas Bar Association, it is incumbent upon me to suggest various topics for your future novels……” I don’t think I finished reading the letter.

What's next for you?

I’m hard at work on Theo 4 -  “Theodore Boone, The Activist.”

>See all of John Grisham's books.

>Read a New York Times review of The Racketeer

(author photo by Bob Krasner)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:11 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When a federal judge and his secretary fail to appear for a scheduled trial and panicked clerks call for an FBI investigation, a harrowing murder case ensues and culminates in the imprisonment of a lawyer who imparts the story of who killed the judge and why. Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Raymond Fogletree just became number five. His body was found in the basement of a lakeside cabin he had built himself and frequently used on weekends. When he did not show up for a trial on Monday morning, his law clerks panicked, called the FBI, and in due course the agents found the crime scene. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies, Judge Fogletree and his young secretary. I did not know Judge Fogletree, but I know who killed him, and why. I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It's a long story.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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